How do you know when you love someone? Love is one of the core traits of being a human being. It’s something that everyone experiences at some point (although not everyone will find “true love”), and it is such a powerful emotional state that it often defines us.
But how exactly do you know if you love someone? That can be a complicated question.
If you’ve ever been in love before, you know what it feels like, and you can recognize it again. But it’s kind of like trying to describe what an orange tastes like (without using the word orange). You can say it’s tangy and sweet, but you can’t really hit the nail on the head. It’s the same with love: you can try to describe it, but unless you’ve felt it, it’s hard to really know.
Fortunately, it’s a subject that’s been analyzed by the greats (and by greats, I mean psychologists, poets, authors, and sometimes just the girl next door). Because so many people have thought long and hard about it, we can identify some clues to tell you if you really love someone.
They are the best part of your day
Here’s a simple test: at the end of the day, right before you go to bed, stop and think about the best part of the day. What was the best moment? It doesn’t have to be something big (like getting a good grade, or a promotion at work), it can be something that just made you feel really good.
How about the breeze blowing through the trees when you walked to work? How about when your drop put his head in your lap? You’re looking for the moment that just made you feel SO good.
Here’s where we get to love: if those best parts of your day involve the same person most (but probably not all) of the time, you might love that person. If the best part of the day was simply seeing his smiling face when he came home from work, you might be in love. If the best part of the day was cooking dinner together, you might be in love.
There are two important pieces to this. First, the best part of your day doesn’t need to be long and complicated. It can be a very brief moment. A look. A feeling. Second, the best part of your day doesn’t need to be a “traditional” positive thing. That dinner you cooked together? You might have made a mess. And screwed it up. You might have thrown it away because it was so bad. But that could still be the best part of your day. At the end of the day, look back and think about what was best. If there is a special person involved in those moments, you might be in love.
Look at your own needs, and look at theirs
Start thinking about your own needs. When you’re single and/or alone, you are probably putting your own needs ahead of everyone else (assuming you don’t have family commitments, or are working in a career that requires selfless service). Most people are out there just trying to do the best they can, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing to say that they’re putting their own needs ahead of others. They’re trying to get through school. Or build a career. Or just hold it together.
When you’re in love, that changes. Suddenly, your needs aren’t the priority any more. When you realize that the other person’s needs have moved way up on the list, and yours aren’t on top any more. And when you realize that you would do almost anything for that other person. If you suddenly realize that the other person’s happiness is more important than your own, you’re probably looking at love. And when making the other person happy makes you happy, there’s a good chance you’re in love.
You like each other so much that you are best friends
Everyone has friends, and many people have that one person that they are incredibly close to. Best friends: we have them starting in early childhood. Some of those friendships last through adulthood. This applies to both men and women.
You’ve got your bro or your girl who is always going to be there for you. But then suddenly, there is someone else. Someone that you are developing a close, emotional intimacy with. And you suddenly have another “best friend.” The relationship is very similar to that of your regular best friend.
You’re always going to be there for each other, and maybe more importantly, you just love being around that person. But here, there is… something more. You realize that you support this person unconditionally, and you have a physical need to be with them. Now you’re in love.
Ultimately, love is one of those things that you “just know.” Once you’re there. Once you love someone, you know the feeling, and you recognize it again in a heartbeat. Sadly, not all love lasts (or maybe that’s not sad: maybe it’s good to experience loving different people).
As time moves on, relationships age. The old song says, “You don’t bring me flowers any more. You hardly talk to me any more when I come through the door at the end of the day” So how do you know if you still love someone? You simply go back to the start. Look at the clues all over again.
Is that person still the best part of your day, on most days? Are you still concerned about that other person’s needs? Yes, you have your career to deal with, but would you drop something important to you simply to support the other? And are you still best friends? Do you still share secrets? Are there things (sometimes silly little things) that have special meaning to the two of you? Remember, just because a relationship has changed, doesn’t mean the love is gone.
Children, obviously change things tremendously. But you’ll know if that core love is still there. Just like that orange, you won’t be able to explain exactly what it is. But you know it when you’re there.
How did you know you were in love? I would love to hear from you.
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Want to read more on relationship’s, check out my post on the best ted talks on sex, relationships and infidelity.